It's no secret that I do a lot of canning and preserving throughout the year - at least the months we aren't drowning in snow. For me, it is a real treat to be able to crack into a jar of something homemade that was crafted in the peak of the season, when not much has to be done to keep the pure flavour of the fruit or vegetable alive and bright, since even in a good year our harvest season is only a few weeks in the summer and maybe a month in the fall. Being the foodie that I am (and one of the few people I know of in my circle of friends and family who still cans), I relish in the ability to share my creations with my friends and family too, either by tucking a few jars of jam or sauce into holiday gift baskets or setting out a dish of homemade marmalade or conserve at brunch or with afternoon coffee and tea.
To me, nothing tastes better than local food, and when I found out Natrel was promoting a series of "do good" pledges that had to do with embracing the wealth in our backyards, I jumped at the chance to get in on their Summer Preserves Kit challenge.
I was super excited when my kit arrived - packed with mason jars, tags, a shopping bag, coupons, recipes and a full-out canning kit. Not only did we have some Ontario cranberries in the fridge (forgotten at Thanksgiving!) but I had just been apple picking, and knew at least a few of the goodies I'd be putting up in the next few weeks. The first batch I made with my new kit was this chock-full-of-goodness apple conserve. Our local organic apples, along with raisins and chopped almonds, cook just enough to become suspended in a thick, vanilla-spice syrup, embodying elements of crisp, tart, sweet, soft and spice in a single spoonful. It is as gorgeous to look at as it is delicious to eat - and needless to say, part of the batch didn't even make it to the jar before my mom claimed it for her Greek yoghurt, toast and Saturday morning pancakes!
I've still got a few jars to fill, so keep your eyes out for the next few preserves and follow @NatrelMilk (#natrelpreserves and #natrelorganic) for lots of other ideas!
Apple Raisin Conserve
Makes 2 pints, 32 1-fl oz servings
5 large apples, peeled and diced
½ cup raisins
¼ cup lemon juice
2 cups sugar with added pectin (i.e. Quickset for Jam)
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp gluten free vanilla
½ cup chopped almonds